OPINION

Obama the best and worst politician America has seen

John Sitkiewicz

Presidential legacies take decades to form.

Given his erratic poll numbers and how polarized the country has become, just how history will ultimately judge President Barack Obama remains to be seen.

That doesn’t mean that many haven’t already rendered their verdicts.

Many on the left want his likeness enshrined on Mount Rushmore.

Conversely, his most vehement detractors on the right are convinced that the president is hopelessly feckless and weakening America’s brand around the world.

But, setting aside predictable partisan arguments, something is already well established regarding Obama, strictly from a political standpoint.

Without question, Obama is the absolute best and worst politician the country has ever seen.

All one has to do is consider Obama’s undeniable successes and how he achieved them.

Few images are more powerful in American life than the sight of the nation’s chief executive speaking from a presidential podium.

Whether you love him or loathe him, few have ever done it better than Obama.

Beyond any shadow of a doubt, the president has made vilifying the GOP an art form. Obama has the GOP’s number and he knows it.

Despite occasional Republican attempts at bravado, they know it too.

To the president’s credit, he accurately calculated very early in his first term that it wouldn’t take much to get the GOP — a party notorious for their inability to effectively message and strategize — to repeatedly capitulate to his demands.

Sure, the legislation that Obama championed and signed into law might be toxic now, but it passed nevertheless, aided in large part by his ability to get a solid Democratic coalition voting in lockstep support of his agenda.

From his near-trillion-dollar stimulus that has only resulted in anemic economic growth and stagnant wages to his complete overshot on health care reform, Obama has been able to massively increase federal spending, empower bureaucracy, enhance entitlements, and expand government.

It has been, just as Obama promised, an undeniable fundamental transformation in America.

However, much to the confusion of Obama’s devotees, many of the president’s actions have been borderline amateurish.

For reasons that only he can understand, the president has chosen to only surround himself with personal friends and admirers who believe every policy idea and initiative he introduces is more brilliant than the last.

No one ever seems to be around to advise Obama of approaching political danger along the lines of the Obamacare rollout and Bowe Bergdahl prisoner trade, both of which were debacles.

Despite giving lip service to wanting a functional Congress, Obama has zero problems vetoing bipartisan legislation, namely the Keystone Pipeline, and leaving members of his own party out in the cold.

Even with all that, the most fascinating aspect of the Obama presidency may be his disinterest in forming any type of meaningful relationships with Congress.

While Obama’s disdain for Republicans isn’t disguised, he doesn’t seem to think twice about putting members of his own party in uncompromising positions.

Just last November, it was Obama who famously said his policies were on each and every ballot to be cast in the midterm election.

The result? An electoral massacre so bad it made the shellacking Democrats experienced back in the 2010 Republican wave seem like a happy memory.

Scores of Democrats’ political careers were effectively ended or put on ice for the foreseeable future.

The GOP took back the senate majority with a nine-seat pickup.

House congressional districts got redder.

Combine all that with governorship losses in the otherwise reliable liberal strongholds of Illinois, Maryland, and Massachusetts and the real story revealed itself for anyone willing to see.

In plain view of the country, Obama has all but decimated his own Democratic Party.

Ironically, the potential multi-election cycle political damage that Obama has done to Democrats may only be surpassed by the irreversible damage he’s inflicted on the legislative process.

Though it’s currently being held up in federal court, Obama attempted to essentially legalize 5 million undocumented immigrants by fiat after spending the better part of his presidency publicly stating he didn’t have the authority to do so.

Obama also had every intention of completely bypassing congressional review of an unprecedented pending nuclear deal with Iran until the Senate had the nerve to stand up for their institution’s authority.

Perhaps none of this matters to Obama. He convinced himself some time ago that he can govern around Congress.

But the president and his handlers are ignoring the long game.

What Obama fails to realize is he’s not the only president who will be capable of circumventing the legislative process. A Republican could do it too.

Obama’s own actions have created a permanent opening for any future Oval Office occupant to entirely do away with major portions of his legacy with the stroke of a pen.

Any future Republican president will take great pleasure in making the Obama years seem like they were only a bad dream.

Should that actually come to pass, Obama would have no one but himself to blame.

John Sitkiewicz is a Metro Detroit freelance writer specializing in business and politics.

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